On March 20, one day before the 325th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s birth, three choral groups and an instrumental group will present Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” in Hoya, Tokyo.

They will be led by Taro Tanno and his mother, Yumiko, both of whom are experts on German Protestant music.

After Bach died, this great work of his was almost forgotten. German composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847) revived interest in Bach’s music on March 11, 1829, when he conducted the first performance of the “Passion” since the composer’s death in 1750.

In October 2009, the year which commemorated the bicentennial of the birth of Mendelssohn, choral groups Heinrich-Schuetz-Chor Tokyo and Mendelssohn-Chor and instrumental groups Ubiquitous Bach and Sinfonia Musica Poetica, under the leadership of the Tannos, presented Mendelssohn’s first oratorio “Paulus” (St. Paul).

This time, those groups (minus Sinfonia Musica Poetica) will be joined by the Ensemble Aquarius choral group to present the “Passion.”

For the coming performance, the Tannos carried out careful analysis and interpretation of the singing parts, especially the chorales. Modern instruments will primarily be used.

Genzoh Takehisa will play a replica of the pianoforte made by Gottfried Silbermann, a contemporary of Bach, as part of the basso continuo.

Taro Tanno will both conduct and sing as Jesus. Other solo vocalists are tenor Zeger Vandersteene from Belgium (who will sing the part of the Evangelist), sopranos Fusako Tokunaga and Momoko Tanno, altos Yoko Nagashima and Noriko Hatori, tenor Yoshinori Maki and baritone Yasuto Kasuga. Yoko Seto and Yuri Nagai will serve as first and second concert mistresses.

A program brochure including a German text of the libretto with a Japanese translation will be distributed.

“St. Matthew Passion” starts at 3 p.m. on March 20 at Hoya Komorebi Hall. Take the bus from Hoya Station and get off at Hoya Chosha. Tickets are ¥4,000 (¥2,500 for students). For more information, call or fax (042) 394-0543 or (03) 3998-8162, or visit www.musicapoetica.jp

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